Chelsea hires Thomas Tuchel as manager on 18-month contract

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FILE - in this file photo dated Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, PSG's head coach Thomas Tuchel gestures from the touchline during the French League One soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Rennes at the Parc des Princes in Paris, France. Thomas Tuchel is confirmed as the new Chelsea soccer team manager, Tuesday Jan. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, FILE)

LONDON – Chelsea hired Thomas Tuchel as manager on Tuesday on an 18-month contract to replace the fired Frank Lampard.

Tuchel, a 47-year-old German, is back in work a month after losing his job at Paris Saint-Germain following a power struggle with the club. In his 2 1/2 years in Paris, he led the team to back-to-back French league titles and the Champions League final last season.

His first match in charge will be against Wolverhampton on Wednesday, with Chelsea languishing in ninth place despite spending nearly $300 million on new players for this season.

Tuchel can attend the match by using an English pandemic allowance for workers flying into an elite sports environment to avoid full quarantine by testing negative for the coronavirus.

“It is never easy to change head coach in the middle of the season but we are very happy to secure one of Europe’s best coaches in Thomas Tuchel,” Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said.

“There is still much to play for and much to achieve, this season and beyond. We welcome Thomas to the club.”

Lampard, a Chelsea great as a player, lasted 18 months before getting fired as its manager following a run of five losses in the last eight league games which threatens the team’s ambitions of a top-four finish and Champions League qualification.

“We all have the greatest respect for Frank Lampard’s work and the legacy he created at Chelsea,” Tuchel said. “At the same time, I cannot wait to meet my new team and compete in the most exciting league in football. I am grateful to now be part of the Chelsea family — it feels amazing.”